Tuesday, June 15, 2004

When it comes to displaying a calculated contempt for the United States, Europe and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over nuclear weapons development, the mullahcrats in Tehran are in a class with the Pyongyang Stalinists.

As the IAEA meets in Vienna to consider a European-drafted resolution pointing to Iran’s continued refusal to come clean about its nuclear program, representatives of the Islamist regime continue to threaten the agency. The speaker of the Iranian parliament yesterday warned that members may not ratify Iran’s signature to an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — something insisted on by the IAEA after it discovered that Tehran was attempting to develop atomic weapons in violation of its obligations as a signer of the NPT. The speaker, Gholam Ali Hadad-Adel, suggested that by pressing Iran to tell the truth, the Europeans were doing the bidding of nefarious “Zionists.” Late last month, the head of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards warned that that the regime was prepared to launch suicide attacks or missile strikes against “29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West.”

Iranian President Mohammed Khatami (who is usually depicted in the Western press as a moderate) has denounced three European Union countries (Britain, France and Germany, known as the “EU 3”) who have tried to put together a compromise arrangement in which Iran verifiably ends its pursuit of atomic weapons — much as Libya has. Indeed, Mr. Khatami has hinted that Iran will withdraw from the NPT if the international community tries to force it to tell the truth about its nuclear activities.

Unfortunately, there is little evidence thus far that either the United States or the EU 3 will move decisively to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. While Britain and France seem to be inching toward a somewhat tougher approach, they have shown little interest in putting any kind of a deadline on Tehran. While Washington has done a commendable job of articulating the problem that would be posed by nuclear weapons in the hands of rogue governments like the one in Iran, it has shown little stomach for confronting the regime anytime this year. While the West delays taking action, congressional investigators reported yesterday that Beijing is sending nuclear technology to Iran in exchange for oil.

In short, while we pass resolutions at the IAEA, the situation grows more dangerous. It is looking more and more like 2005 will be the critical year when the West will decide whether it is prepared to live with an Iranian atomic bomb, or take decisive action to prevent one from being developed. We understand that the United States and Europe are exhausted by Iraq, but we don’t have the luxury of being exhausted. The truth is that the world will become a much more dangerous place if Iran — ruled by a violent, paranoid cabal that routinely employs terrorism as an instrument of state policy — is allowed to acquire a nuclear capacity. That would be intolerable.

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